Dubia cardinal: With Traditionis Custodes, ‘Pope Francis has virtually unleashed a hurricane’

Cardinal Walter Brandmüller proposes the idea that there are indeed laws that, when heavily opposed or ignored, never effectively become law.Thu Jul 29, 2021 – 5:12 pm EST

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Cardinal Walter Brandmüller 

July 29, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, one of the two remaining dubia cardinals, has issued a statement criticizing Pope Francis’s motu proprio Traditionis custodes essentially abrogating the traditional Latin Mass. This cardinal sees that the Pope has unleashed a “hurricane” and proposes the idea that there are indeed laws that, when heavily opposed or ignored, never effectively become law. He gives an example from Church history of such a law being effectively ignored and invites Catholics who are indignant about this new motu proprio to remain calm and to have patience.

While Cardinal Brandmüller is right in calling upon us Catholics to retain a charitable language and preserve patience, other voices air concern that Pope Francis might actually implement this new law very forcefully, with the help of Cardinal Braz de Aviz, under whose authority the Franciscans of the Immaculate – a fairly young order that more and more grew in its attachment to Tradition – have essentially been destroyed in their original charism. LifeSite will soon have a report on these warning voices. In addition, we also see prominent cases of the Old Mass being suppressed. One such case is the archbishop of Washington, D.C. has already cancelled the planned celebration of a Traditional Latin Mass by a former nuncio, Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, at the National Shrine in D.C. in August 2021.

So far, Pope Francis has always implemented his own agenda, even at the highly controversial synods on the family, at the end of which he got a final document that helped him to write Amoris Laetitia, ruling that some divorced and “remarried” couples may have access to Holy Communion. This was the very document that provoked the four dubia cardinals – Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller, and Joachim Meisner – to issue their dubia(doubts).May Cardinal Brandmüller’s hope turn out to be true – that this new motu proprio is going to be essentially ignored and thereby turned ineffective – but at the same time, may we remain vigilant.Below is the full statement by Cardinal Brandmüller.“Traditionis custodes” considered in the clear light of the dayBy Walter Cardinal BrandmüllerWith his motu proprio Traditionis custodes, Pope Francis has virtually unleashed a hurricane that has infuriated those Catholics who feel attached to the “Tridentine” rite of the Mass revived by Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum.From now on – according to the essential message of Traditionis custodes – Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum will be largely abrogated and the celebration of the Holy Mass will be permitted only according to Paul VI’s Missal, with certain exceptions.A glance at the blogger world and other media reveals how worldwide protest has erupted against the document, which is unusual in form and content.In contrast to those protests concerning the content of Traditionis custodes, here some reflections shall be made which refer to fundamental aspects of ecclesiastical legislation – with regard to Traditionis custodes.If the discussion about Traditionis custodes has so far been about the legislative content of the motu proprio, it will be considered here from a formal point of view as a legal text.First of all, it should be noted that a law, in order to acquire binding force, does not require any special acceptance by the parties concerned.But it does require reception by them. By reception is meant the affirmative acceptance of the law in the sense of “making it one’s own.” Just by this – and only with this – the law attains confirmation and permanence, as already the “father” of canon law, Gratian († 1140) taught in his famous Decretum. Here is the original text:Leges instituuntur cum promulgantur. Firmantur cum moribus utentium approbantur. Sicut enim moribus utentium in contrariem nonnullae leges hodie abrogatae sunt, ita moribus utentium leges confirmantur (c. 3 D. 4). (see translation below)This means, however, that for a law to be valid and binding, it requires the approval of those to whom it is addressed. Thus, on the other hand, some laws today are abolished by non-observance, just as, on the contrary, laws are confirmed by the fact that those concerned observe them.In this context, reference may also be made to the possibility given by customary law, according to which a justified objection against a universal church law has at least initially a suspensive effect. This means, however, that the law is not to be obeyed as long as the objection has not been resolved.It should also be remembered that in case of doubt as to whether a law is binding, it is not binding. Such doubts could be caused, for example, by inadequate wording of the text of the law.Here it becomes clear that laws and the community for which they are enacted are related to each other in a quasi-organic way, insofar as the bonum communeof the community is their goal.In plain language, however, this means that the validity of a law ultimately depends on the consent of those affected by it. The law has to serve the good of the community – and not vice versa the community the law.The two are not mutually opposed but mutually related entities, neither of which can exist without or against the other.If, therefore, a law is not or no longer observed from the beginning or in the course of time, it loses its obligatory force, becomes obsolete.This – and it must be emphasized emphatically – is of course true only of purely ecclesiastical laws, and in no case of those based on divine or natural law.As an example of a lex mere ecclesiastica may serve the Apostolic Constitution Veterum sapientia of Pope John XXIII of February 22, 1962, with which the Pope, among other things, prescribed Latin for the teaching at universities.Young doctor that I then was, I only reacted with shaking my head. Well, at the “Gregoriana” in Rome Latin was customary, and that made good sense in view of the language babel among the student body coming from all continents. But whether Cicero, Virgil, and Lactancius would have understood the lectures may well be doubted. And now: church history, even of modern times, in Latin? With all the professed love for the language of the Romans – how could that work?And that is how it remained. Veterum sapientia, hardly printed, was soon forgotten. But what this inglorious end of an Apostolic Constitution meant for the reputation of papal authority became apparent only five years later, when Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae vitae was almost drowned in the protests of the Western world.Be slow, then, friends, and have patience. Never has unenlightened zeal served peace, the common good. It was St. John Henry Newman who, quoting the great Augustine, reminded us: “Securus iudicat orbis terrarum.” In the meantime, let us pay careful attention to our language. “Verbal disarmament” has been called this before. In more pious words: No violation of brotherly (and recently – sisterly) love!Now – serious again: What a grotesque idea that just the mystery of love would become the bone of contention. Again, let us quote St. Augustine, who called the Holy Eucharist the bond of love and peace that encloses the head and members of the Church. It would be no greater triumph of hell if this bond were to be torn again, as it has been many times before. And the world would scoff, “See how they love one another!”Translation by Dr. Maike Hickson

Please see here a translation of the extended quote from Gratian:

Laws are instituted when they are promulgated; they are confirmed when they have been approved by the long standing custom of those who observe them. Some laws have have been abrogated by the long standing custom of those who have acted contrary to them, because laws are confirmed by the long standing custom of those who observe them.

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Popes Come and Go


David Warren

FRIDAY, JULY 30, 2021

For someone who wasn’t there, it becomes increasingly difficult to reconstruct what actually happened in the Church “Post Vatican II.” I was aware of it, at first, as a pre-Christian, which is to say, not even as a sympathetic observer. Years would pass before I reached an age where I knew Catholics who cared; but then I met some fine ones.

By the time I was becoming a Christian (at the age of twenty-three), my “natural preference” was to be received as a Catholic, but my rational will joined the Anglican communion. This was because the Catholics were cutting a sad figure, especially by comparison in England, where I then lived.

While I did not encounter any “clown masses,” I wouldn’t, because I wasn’t attending Church; and by carefully guiding my footsteps along the paths of very High Anglicanism, I could avoid similar scandals in my adopted religious environment. It was not until the 1980s that, with women priests and so forth, the Anglicans started to move away from me, and in effect, to evict their congregation; I saw them start for the doors.

One might have expected the Catholic pews to fill up, with the fleeing “C. of E.” But no. This is where the “Spirit of Vatican II” had its effect. There was no, or very little, enthusiasm in all the Popish places, that I could discern, except where Pope John Paul II’s personal “charisma” sang a song.

Or perhaps I should generalize, for I was becoming aware of more and more remarkable individual Catholics – including even priests – who were an argument for religious faith and commitment.

For no matter how bad things get, there will always be – or there have always been – sincere Catholics. As one grows older, in my case, one grows familiar with them. The Church becomes personal, so that, one can no longer leave the Church easily. Instead, one is confronted with the prospect of multiple acts of betrayal.

But I didn’t face this until the last day of 2003; for staying out was the secret of a shallow happiness. I could follow events inside, as a kind of half-Catholic.

The person I admired most among living bishops, Joseph Ratzinger, did not become pope until the spring of 2005. This seemed to me at least a minor miracle, for I’d never expected so thoroughly admirable a man to occupy the highest station in the Catholic Church; or more remarkably, two in a row. Perhaps my standards weren’t high enough, but I was exhilarated.

And Pope Benedict XVI lived up to my expectations, especially by his measures in Summorum Pontificum, but also by his work through Anglicanorum Coetibus, in which, to my mind, he showed brilliant spiritual diplomacy in recovering parts of the Church that had been smashed (a long time ago, in the Anglican example).

But more than this, his three encyclicals (Deus Caritas Est, Spe Salvi, Caritas in Veritate) are a genuine supplement to the profundity of Catholic teaching, and beyond them, his books on many themes and topics are a treasure. Such phrases as “dictatorship of relativism” served, superficially at first, to put the Church back on its “Cold War footing” against a world that is smug, very glib, and habitually dishonest.

We have been discovering how valuable a treasure his teaching was, through his retirement, in all these Latin (but carefully translated) texts. For Ratzinger has been a model of German thoroughness in all his writings, but also of Christian charity and forbearance, as the Holy Father of our “tribe.”

His election was not a total surprise, given the man’s prestige as a prince of the Church; but an unpleasant turn for the self-declared liberals, whom we now know were working against him even in the Conclave. Their destructive efforts against his (provocatively mild) efforts to clean house were notorious. It often appeared to be one man against a mob.

His resignation was, by his own account, justified because he was too tired and weak to continue. He had already reached a great age, and wanted to retreat into a life of prayer, within what monastic arrangements were still possible. He tried to find a gracious moment to step aside.

I have tried to give a kinder summary of Pope Benedict’s broad contribution to the papacy, distinct from the excessively political account one reads from most sources today, in which he is presented as a “Conservative,” – i.e., merely on one side of an intensely political squabble that does not have much to do with God, Revelation, Salvation, &c.

By contrast, Jorge Bergoglio, the incumbent Pope Francis, was a very political choice, “for the times. His election was already a scandal, because “progressives” had openly campaigned for him – disqualifying him, as a pope had recently reaffirmed. But we are now at a moment when, in canon as in secular law, justice is selectively applied.

This needs to be understood, to make sense of Bergoglio: of his rise in Argentina, his success in Rome, and his record as pope.

We may think of him as a champion of the “Spirit of Vatican II,” and he is, but only as that “spirit” is taken to be demonic. To look back, reasonably, over the heritage of Vatican II, and of what could be said to emerge from it, is to realize that popes Wojtyla and Ratzinger were the professed embodiments of it. In their papacies, each sought to complete unfinished work of the Council, in a Catholic spirit.

The liturgical changes that resulted in the Novus Ordo were from their beginning a deviation from Vatican II, with its stress on making the existing Mass (in Latin) understood. The revolutionary Bergoglio has leapt in to make the deviant normal, and make what was once again becoming normal painfully illegal.

I watched the first act of this tragedy in the 1970s, from a safe distance. But now, after an interlude, that ugly “Spirit” has returned.© 2021 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.orgThe Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

David Warren

David Warren

David Warren is a former editor of the Idler magazine and columnist in Canadian newspapers. He has extensive experience in the Near and Far East. His blog, Essays in Idleness, is now to be found at:

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“If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Mt 19:17) 

12. Only God can answer the question about the good, because he is the Good. But God has already given an answer to this question: he did so by creating man and ordering him with wisdom and love to his final end, through the law which is inscribed in his heart (cf. Rom 2:15), the “natural law”. The latter “is nothing other than the light of understanding infused in us by God, whereby we understand what must be done and what must be avoided. God gave this light and this law to man at creation”.19He also did so in the history of Israel, particularly in the “ten words”, the commandments of Sinai, whereby he brought into existence the people of the Covenant (cf. Ex 24) and called them to be his “own possession among all peoples”, “a holy nation” (Ex 19:5-6), which would radiate his holiness to all peoples (cf. Wis 18:4; Ez 20:41). The gift of the Decalogue was a promise and sign of the New Covenant, in which the law would be written in a new and definitive way upon the human heart (cf. Jer 31:31-34), replacing the law of sin which had disfigured that heart (cf. Jer 17:1). In those days, “a new heart” would be given, for in it would dwell “a new spirit”, the Spirit of God (cf. Ez 36:24-28).20

Consequently, after making the important clarification: “There is only one who is good”, Jesus tells the young man: “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Mt 19:17). In this way, a close connection is made between eternal life and obedience to God’s commandments: God’s commandments show man the path of life and they lead to it. From the very lips of Jesus, the new Moses, man is once again given the commandments of the Decalogue. Jesus himself definitively confirms them and proposes them to us as the way and condition of salvation. The commandments are linked to a promise. In the Old Covenant the object of the promise was the possession of a land where the people would be able to live in freedom and in accordance with righteousness (cf. Dt 6:20-25). In the New Covenant the object of the promise is the “Kingdom of Heaven”, as Jesus declares at the beginning of the “Sermon on the Mount” — a sermon which contains the fullest and most complete formulation of the New Law (cf. Mt 5-7), clearly linked to the Decalogue entrusted by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. This same reality of the Kingdom is referred to in the expression “eternal life”, which is a participation in the very life of God. It is attained in its perfection only after death, but in faith it is even now a light of truth, a source of meaning for life, an inchoate share in the full following of Christ. Indeed, Jesus says to his disciples after speaking to the rich young man: “Every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and inherit eternal life” (Mt 19:29). 

13. Jesus’ answer is not enough for the young man, who continues by asking the Teacher about the commandments which must be kept: “He said to him, ‘Which ones?’ ” (Mt 19:18). He asks what he must do in life in order to show that he acknowledges God’s holiness. After directing the young man’s gaze towards God, Jesus reminds him of the commandments of the Decalogue regarding one’s neighbour: “Jesus said: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not bear false witness; Honour your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbour as yourself’ ” (Mt 19:18-19). 

From the context of the conversation, and especially from a comparison of Matthew’s text with the parallel passages in Mark and Luke, it is clear that Jesus does not intend to list each and every one of the commandments required in order to “enter into life”, but rather wishes to draw the young man’s attention to the “centrality” of the Decalogue with regard to every other precept, inasmuch as it is the interpretation of what the words “I am the Lord your God” mean for man. Nevertheless we cannot fail to notice which commandments of the Law the Lord recalls to the young man. They are some of the commandments belonging to the so-called “second tablet” of the Decalogue, the summary (cf. Rom 13: 8-10) and foundation of which is the commandment of love of neighbour: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Mt 19:19; cf. Mk 12:31). In this commandment we find a precise expression of the singular dignity of the human person, “the only creature that God has wanted for its own sake”.21 The different commandments of the Decalogue are really only so many reflections of the one commandment about the good of the person, at the level of the many different goods which characterize his identity as a spiritual and bodily being in relationship with God, with his neighbour and with the material world. As we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “the Ten Commandments are part of God’s Revelation. At the same time, they teach us man’s true humanity. They shed light on the essential duties, and so indirectly on the fundamental rights, inherent in the nature of the human person”.22

The commandments of which Jesus reminds the young man are meant to safeguard the good of the person, the image of God, by protecting his goods. “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness” are moral rules formulated in terms of prohibitions. These negative precepts express with particular force the ever urgent need to protect human life, the communion of persons in marriage, private property, truthfulness and people’s good name. 

The commandments thus represent the basic condition for love of neighbour; at the same time they are the proof of that love. They are the first necessary step on the journey towards freedom, its starting-point. “The beginning of freedom”, Saint Augustine writes, “is to be free from crimes… such as murder, adultery, fornication, theft, fraud, sacrilege and so forth. When once one is without these crimes (and every Christian should be without them), one begins to lift up one’s head towards freedom. But this is only the beginning of freedom, not perfect freedom…”.23

14. This certainly does not mean that Christ wishes to put the love of neighbour higher than, or even to set it apart from, the love of God. This is evident from his conversation with the teacher of the Law, who asked him a question very much like the one asked by the young man. Jesus refers him to the two commandments of love of God and love of neighbour (cf. Lk 10:25-27), and reminds him that only by observing them will he have eternal life: “Do this, and you will live” (Lk 10:28). Nonetheless it is significant that it is precisely the second of these commandments which arouses the curiosity of the teacher of the Law, who asks him: “And who is my neighbour?” (Lk 10:29). The Teacher replies with the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is critical for fully understanding the commandment of love of neighbour (cf. Lk 10:30-37). 

These two commandments, on which “depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Mt 22:40), are profoundly connected and mutually related. Their inseparable unity is attested to by Christ in his words and by his very life: his mission culminates in the Cross of our Redemption (cf. Jn 3:14-15), the sign of his indivisible love for the Father and for humanity (cf. Jn 13:1). 

Both the Old and the New Testaments explicitly affirm that without love of neighbour, made concrete in keeping the commandments, genuine love for God is not possible. Saint John makes the point with extraordinary forcefulness: “If anyone says, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (Jn 4:20). The Evangelist echoes the moral preaching of Christ, expressed in a wonderful and unambiguous way in the parable of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:30-37) and in his words about the final judgment (cf. Mt25:31-46). 

15. In the “Sermon on the Mount”, the magna charta of Gospel morality,24 Jesus says: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them” (Mt 5:17). Christ is the key to the Scriptures: “You search the Scriptures…; and it is they that bear witness to me” (Jn 5:39). Christ is the centre of the economy of salvation, the recapitulation of the Old and New Testaments, of the promises of the Law and of their fulfilment in the Gospel; he is the living and eternal link between the Old and the New Covenants. Commenting on Paul’s statement that “Christ is the end of the law” (Rom 10:4), Saint Ambrose writes: “end not in the sense of a deficiency, but in the sense of the fullness of the Law: a fullness which is achieved in Christ (plenitudo legis in Christo est), since he came not to abolish the Law but to bring it to fulfilment. In the same way that there is an Old Testament, but all truth is in the New Testament, so it is for the Law: what was given through Moses is a figure of the true law. Therefore, the Mosaic Law is an image of the truth”.25

Jesus brings God’s commandments to fulfilment, particularly the commandment of love of neighbour, by interiorizing their demands and by bringing out their fullest meaning. Love of neighbour springs from a loving heart which, precisely because it loves, is ready to live out the loftiest challenges. Jesus shows that the commandments must not be understood as a minimum limit not to be gone beyond, but rather as a path involving a moral and spiritual journey towards perfection, at the heart of which is love (cf. Col 3:14). Thus the commandment “You shall not murder” becomes a call to an attentive love which protects and promotes the life of one’s neighbour. The precept prohibiting adultery becomes an invitation to a pure way of looking at others, capable of respecting the spousal meaning of the body: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment’. But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment… You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’. But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:21-22, 27-28). Jesus himself is the living “fulfilment” of the Law inasmuch as he fulfils its authentic meaning by the total gift of himself: he himself becomes a living and personal Law, who invites people to follow him; through the Spirit, he gives the grace to share his own life and love and provides the strength to bear witness to that love in personal choices and actions (cf. Jn 13:34-35). 

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What’s Done in Darkness Will Come to Light

Stephen P. White


On Monday of last week, the General Secretary of the USCCB, Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill, resigned ahead of reports that he had been a serial user of a gay hook-up app called Grindr.

The reporting that precipitated the resignation came from The Pillar, an upstart Catholic media outlet run by JD Flynn and Ed Condon. (Disclosure: Both are friends, and I recently wrote a brief piece of analysis for The Pillar.) Almost immediately, interest in the story spread beyond the Catholic press and the usual religion reporters. The story had more legs than an octopus.

There was the obvious problem of a priest in a significant position living a double life in violation of his vows. Moreover, while there is no indication whatsoever that Burrill’s misconduct involved minors, the Grindr app is notorious for putting minors at risk of exploitation precisely because the app allows users to remain anonymous.

Significantly, because The Pillar used legal, commercially available cell-phone tracking data – but has revealed neither the source of that data nor how they came to acquire it – the story set off controversies about data security and about the journalistic ethics of using such data in reporting.

Since last Monday’s report, The Pillar has released two further reports based on similar tracking data: One indicating the use of dating and hook-up apps at multiple parish rectoriesin the Archdiocese of Newark, and the other reporting on the security threat posed to the Holy See by the use of such hook-up apps in the Vatican.

In sum, The Pillar’s reporting has ticked off a lot of people: from the Secretariat of State in the Vatican, to the USCCB, to data-security gurus, would-be gatekeepers of the journalistic guild, to the usual voices on Catholic social media who cry “homophobia” every time it is suggested that an unnatural vice among clerics might be a problem worth addressing.

Not everyone is ticked at The Pillar, of course. Most “ordinary” Catholics I’ve talked to think The Pillar has done the Church a service. And that points to something else going on that deserves attention.

Consider the following timeline of events, as reported by The Pillar, which gives some sense of how Church officials have responded to all this.

    Sometime during the week of July 11-17:  “The Pillar approached USCCB officials  . . . offering to present findings regarding personnel misconduct to USCCB leadership during an off-the-record meeting before publication, and then allowing the conference time to formulate its internal response.” The meeting was scheduled for July 19.


    July 17: “The Pillar met for more than 90 minutes with both Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, along with Dr. Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Vatican’s dicastery for communications, to present its findings. . . .After the meeting’s conclusion, Ruffini requested questions from The Pillar, which he said he would submit to Parolin for a response, and asked for a week for the formulation of a response, to which The Pillar agreed.”

    July 18: “The Pillar was informed that a meeting with senior USCCB officials scheduled for Monday, July 19, had been cancelled. The Pillar was asked to submit written questions instead.” The Pillar submitted written questions, and at the request of the USCCB, agreed to extend the deadline until Tuesday, July 20.

    July 19: Catholic News Agency (former employer of Flynn and Condon) “reported the possibility of forthcoming media reports on the issue of app signal data.”

    July 20: USCCB officials offer an in-person meeting with The Pillar: “En route to that meeting, The Pillar learned from media reports that USCCB General Secretary Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill had resigned in response to ‘impending media reports alleging possible improper behavior.’”

Here’s what this adds up to: The Pillar analysis of mobile app data revealed some very unpleasant things. Rather than simply publishing the findings, The Pillar notified the relevant Church authorities and gave them a reasonable chance to formulate a constructive response, granting additional time when requested.

Either the USCCB or the Secretariat of State (or both) clearly didn’t like what The Pillarhad to tell them. The response was to stall, leak parts of the story to other sympathetic news outlets, and then stonewall. I’ll leave it to communications directors and journalists to argue over whether this maneuvering was brilliant or slimy.

What is clear is that this maneuver was meant to be punitive, to intimidate. This strategy was not to stop the story coming out – word of the story was clearly leaked to other outlets, and Burrill resigned before The Pillar ever reported a word – but to inflict maximum damage on two Catholic reporters who had the impudence to inform Church leaders of something they didn’t want to hear.

There are, to be sure, legitimate questions to be asked about The Pillar’s use of app data in their reporting. But when Church leaders reflexively treat ecclesially minded journalists like Flynn and Condon – journalists who are emphatically not “fringe” – as pariahs, simply for having brought inconvenient truths about clerical sins to the attention of Church leaders, there are serious unintended consequences.

As the Catholic media landscape changes rapidly, bishops – and their often-lay-led communications teams – are going to have to make some strategic choices. Do they want a “kept” Catholic media? A Catholic media trusted by no one, where the hardest news about the Church is left to be reported by secular news outlets (or attorneys general) with no love for, and limited understanding of, the Church?

And then there is the specter of an ever-more-poisonous Catholic media fringe, which grows in inverse proportion to the bishops’ own transparency and credibility, especially on questions of sexual malfeasance and abuse by clergy. Bishops who lament that growing fringe and its influence over their flocks would do well to remember what feeds it.

Restoring episcopal credibility is going to require a level of accountability and transparency which may be painful, even humiliating, at times. And in that regard, independent Catholic journalists like Flynn and Condon are not the Church’s enemy – they’re some of her most important allies.

*Image: Curses Against the Pharisees (Imprécations contre les pharisiens) by James Tissot, c. 1890 [Brooklyn Museum, New York]

© 2021 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.orgThe Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Stephen P. White

Stephen P. White

Stephen P. White is executive director of The Catholic Project at The Catholic University of America and a fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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MORE THINGS THAT MATTERBy E. P. UnumJuly 22, 2021            The following are some of the issues that trouble and concern me and, in my opinion, ought to concern all of us: 1.        Isn’t it curious that people who are truly oppressed by socialist/ communist and Marxist governments in Venezuela and Cuba are waving the American flag in their quest for freedom?  2.        I noticed that the U.S. Women’s soccer team, ranked #1 in the world, and their opponent Sweden took a knee at the start of their match “in protest over world racism”. Someone should remind these young girls that racism has no place in the Olympic Games. Jesse Owens taught us that 80 plus years ago in Munich, Germany. 3.         Here is a message for General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and retired General Lloyd Austin, now Secretary of Defense: Forcing officers and enlisted personnel to focus on Critical Race Theory is hugely counterproductive to the mission of the U.S. Military. They know this, and they also know that highlighting the color of one’s skin in the ranks is a blueprint for disaster. The last thing you want in combat is a soldier thinking whether or not he or she will fight alongside someone whose skin color differs from his or her’s. Do you really think China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea are teaching this to their militaries? 4.        In Macroeconomics 101, I learned that “too many dollars chasing too few goods” is the very definition of inflation. I also learned that in periods of recession, fiscal and monetary policy demands the government relax constraints on the money supply and “pump” more money into circulation by purchasing bonds in the open market. Conversely, in periods when inflation raises its ugly head, the opposite strategy comes into play… the government increases its control over the money supply and available credit and sells bonds in the open market to take money out of circulation. Why then is the Biden Administration ignoring these time-tested principles and planning on spending trillions of dollars when our economy is growing substantially? I just heard Biden speak about the “pressing need” to approve his infrastructure plan. His idea: ‘we need to spend more money to allow government to move on projects that will drive down prices not increase them” Such a policy has not worked in the history of mankind and it will not work this time either. 5.         Nothing the Biden Administration has done since January 20th 2021 makes economic sense to me. Nothing! In fact, every action taken has adversely impacted America and strengthened our adversaries. And, don’t believe CNN, MSNBC, and the NY Times who continually say that we have finally rebuilt relationships with our allies. Our allies and adversaries alike are laughing at us because nothing we do makes any sense. Example: Biden facilitated the Russian NorthStar II Pipeline into Germany, throwing an economic windfall and lifeline to Russia, who will now be able to supply oil to Europe, but he terminated the Keystone XL Pipeline here in the U.S. essentially killing U.S. Energy Independence and making us dependent once again on Middle Eastern Oil! Gas at the pump in California is now on average $4.26 per gallon and heading higher. 6.         Why is it necessary for the U.S. Department of Education to push teaching our kids in elementary and high school Critical Race Theory? Are you comfortable with this? Do you want your child to believe that being white means he or she is an oppressor and being black means he or she is oppressed? Do you feel comfortable in having your children or grandchildren taught that America is a racist nation? 7.         President Biden speaks to us about the importance of getting vaccinated and “doing our patriotic duty” to beat Covid-19. But his administration continues to ignore the massive crisis and invasion of over 1.0 million illegal aliens into our nation. Indeed, his administration has been clandestinely facilitating the transportation of these illegal aliens to cities and towns inside America without Covid-19 testing. The health problems this will cause our society are too onerous to contemplate. I may be too harsh, but this seems to be really irresponsible and contemptible. 8.         Where is John Durham? Will we ever hear from him? 9.         Where is Vice President Kamala Harris? I haven’t seen or heard from her since she was whisked away to Bethesda Hospital on Sunday after having joined the democrats who feed Texas to avoid having to vote for dinner with them. Six of these “brave democrats” came down with Covid-19. Can you spell irresponsible? 10.     Meanwhile in our cities across our nation, crime continues to rise unabated. In St Louis, a killer was set free when the prosecuting attorney failed to show up at trial. I watched with alarm and concern, young men leaving stores carrying various items they had stolen from the store. They were boldly walking out the door and no one stopped them. Chicago is a war zone. New York is not much better. Crime is out of control. People are being killed on our streets. Senior citizens assaulted. Rapes are rising and thefts are through the roof. The explanation for all of this is no mystery.  The cry of “defund the police” is clearly interpreted by criminals as “it’s open season on crime”.  11.     I have had enough! Basta, in Italian. How about you?
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Kansas City Star Is A Joke
July 29, 2021
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on an editorial in the Kansas City Star:
In the 28 years that I have been president of the Catholic League, few newspapers have been more hypocritical in their coverage of the Catholic Church than the Kansas City Star. It added to its legacy on July 28 when it ran an editorial claiming that the Church is still not transparent in its handling of the sexual abuse of minors.
The newspaper says the Church can correct this alleged deficiency by publishing a list of priests who were “credibly accused.” It praises those  dioceses which have done so. I don’t. If anything, they are deserving of our condemnation, not commendation. The accused have rights, and that includes Roman Catholic priests.
Why should the Catholic Church publish a list of accused priests when no institution in the United States publishes a list of its employees who have been accused of sexual misconduct (or any offense, for that matter)? If they did, the list of those who work in the media would be extensive.
Moreover, if the names of those who have been accused, but not convicted, were made public by their employer, the employee should sue for reputational damage. In fact, the Catholic League filed an amicus brief in a case involving 11 Pennsylvania priests whose reputational rights were damaged when a grand jury report was made public listing their accused status. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled 6-1 in our favor in December 2018.
The Star editorial says there needs to be an “easy-to-use national list of abusive clerics.” It does not mention that almost all the molesting priests, over 80 percent of whom were homosexuals, are either dead or out of ministry. Nor does it mention that the Church’s scandal is long over (most of the abuse took place between 1965 and 1985), quite unlike the public schools where this problem is still ongoing.
In a report on the public schools published in 2016 by USA Today, it found the following. “Congress passed a law in December 2015 requiring states to ban school districts from secretly passing problem teachers to other jurisdictions or face losing federal funds. But 45 states have not instituted the ban.”
The sentinels at the Kansas City Star should get on this one right away. But they won’t—it doesn’t involve the Catholic Church.
Finally, the Star quotes David Clohessy, the discredited former head of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), an outfit that was exposed several times as a total fraud by the Catholic League, and most definitively by former staff member, Gretchen Rachel Hammond. That is why no one quotes Clohessy any more, save for the Star.
In 2011, when the Kansas City Star was relentless in its news stories on clergy sexual abuse, I sought a corrective: I offered the newspaper $25,000 to pay for an advertisement that sought to set the record straight, especially about the work of SNAP. I was denied without an explanation. It was not as though the newspaper couldn’t have used the money—in the previous decade it had laid off a thousand employees. We all know why I was turned down.
For all of these reasons, the Kansas City Star is a joke.
Contact Melinda Henneberger, the editorial page editor: P.S. I have a new book coming out in September that addresses this subject in detail, The Truth about Clergy Sexual Abuse: Clarifying the Facts and the Causes, published by Ignatius Press.

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10. The Church, instructed by the Teacher’s words, believes that man, made in the image of the Creator, redeemed by the Blood of Christ and made holy by the presence of the Holy Spirit, has as the ultimate purpose of his life to live “for the praise of God’s glory” (cf. Eph 1:12), striving to make each of his actions reflect the splendour of that glory. “Know, then, O beautiful soul, that you are the image of God”, writes Saint Ambrose. “Know that you are the glory of God (1 Cor 11:7). Hear how you are his glory. The Prophet says: Your knowledge has become too wonderful for me (cf. Ps. 138:6, Vulg.). That is to say, in my work your majesty has become more wonderful; in the counsels of men your wisdom is exalted. When I consider myself, such as I am known to you in my secret thoughts and deepest emotions, the mysteries of your knowledge are disclosed to me. Know then, O man, your greatness, and be vigilant”.17

What man is and what he must do becomes clear as soon as God reveals himself. The Decalogue is based on these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Ex 20:2-3). In the “ten words” of the Covenant with Israel, and in the whole Law, God makes himself known and acknowledged as the One who “alone is good”; the One who despite man’s sin remains the “model” for moral action, in accordance with his command, “You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev 19:2); as the One who, faithful to his love for man, gives him his Law (cf. Ex 19:9-24 and 20:18-21) in order to restore man’s original and peaceful harmony with the Creator and with all creation, and, what is more, to draw him into his divine love: “I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people” (Lev 26:12). 

The moral life presents itself as the response due to the many gratuitous initiatives taken by God out of love for man. It is a response of love, according to the statement made in Deuteronomy about the fundamental commandment: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children” (Dt 6:4-7). Thus the moral life, caught up in the gratuitousness of God’s love, is called to reflect his glory: “For the one who loves God it is enough to be pleasing to the One whom he loves: for no greater reward should be sought than that love itself; charity in fact is of God in such a way that God himself is charity”.18

11. The statement that “There is only one who is good” thus brings us back to the “first tablet” of the commandments, which calls us to acknowledge God as the one Lord of all and to worship him alone for his infinite holiness (cf. Ex 20:2-11). The good is belonging to God, obeying him, walking humbly with him in doing justice and in loving kindness (cf.Mic 6:8). Acknowledging the Lord as God is the very core, the heart of the Law, from which the particular precepts flow and towards which they are ordered. In the morality of the commandments the fact that the people of Israel belongs to the Lord is made evident, because God alone is the One who is good. Such is the witness of Sacred Scripture, imbued in every one of its pages with a lively perception of God’s absolute holiness: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts” (Is 6:3). 

But if God alone is the Good, no human effort, not even the most rigorous observance of the commandments, succeeds in “fulfilling” the Law, that is, acknowledging the Lord as God and rendering him the worship due to him alone (cf. Mt 4:10). This “fulfilment” can come only from a gift of God: the offer of a share in the divine Goodness revealed and communicated in Jesus, the one whom the rich young man addresses with the words “Good Teacher” (Mk 10:17; Lk 18:18). What the young man now perhaps only dimly perceives will in the end be fully revealed by Jesus himself in the invitation: “Come, follow me” (Mt 19:21). 

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    The photo chosen to illustrate an article published today by Breitbart— based on another source, The Pillar — about possible blackmail of the Vatican by China.    The authors of the source article (in The Pillar, see below) claim cell phone data they have obtained shows that, on several occasions in 2018, personal cell phones accessed “hook-up apps” from “non-public areas” inside Vatican City.     This fact, the authors argue, could have been known by the Chinese government, and used to blackmail the Vatican, perhaps into signing the 2018 China-Holy See agreement on matters including the appointment of Catholic bishops in that country.     The editors of the Breitbart article, which draws on The Pillararticle, chose to illustrate their article with this photo above. It shows a bishop using his cell phone during a working session inside a Vatican meeting hall    =======================    Special note: A friend, Richard Duplantis, has a website where he sells beautiful liturgical supplies. I urge readers interested in such items to consider him: — “Where art and beauty embrace the sacred.”
    ====================    ”But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant… holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied power–2 Timothy 3:1–5    ”And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” —Matthew 24:12    ”Blackmail is an act of coercion using the threat of revealing or publicizing either substantially true or false information about a person or people unless certain demands are met. It is often damaging information, and may be revealed to family members or associates rather than to the general public. It may involve using threats of physical, mental or emotional harm… It is also used, sometimes by state agencies, to exert influence; this was a common Soviet practice, so much so that the term “kompromat“, transliterated from Russian, is often used for compromising material used to exert control. Blackmail may also be considered a form of extortion.” —Definition of blackmail    ***    Letter #73, 2021, Wednesday, July 28: Blackmail        This is a story about blackmail.    Blackmail: “An act of coercion using the threat of revealing… information… unless certain demands are met.”    ***    I received this from a reader this morning:    “Fyi, see below. I am not sure of its accuracy but it sure does provide some plausible answers to the Vatican/China arrangement Report: ‘Extensive’ Gay Hookup App Usage Compromises Vatican Security (    Bill    ***    I went to the link.     ***    I found an article, published today, July 28, by Breitbart, which alleges that the Vatican is (possibly) being subjected to blackmail, by China.     But the entire Breitbart article is based on another article, published a few hours earlier, on July 27, by The Pillar, a new Catholic web news agency founded earlier this year by two former editors at Catholic News Agency (owned by EWTN), JD Flynn and Ed Condon, from which both resigned at the every end of 2020 (see brief bios at the bottom of this letter).    The Pillar has now made itself known globally for its focus on the use of “Grindr app data” to reveal possible sexual misconduct by high-ranking Church officials.    First was its story last week about the monsignor at the United States Bishops’ Conference who used the Grindr app, then abruptly resigned as the story was about to break publicly (link).    Second is this story about the use of the Grindr app inside Vatican City (link).    ***    The article points to China as a possible blackmailer of the Vatican.    The article suggests that the Vatican’s September 2018 agreement with China (the contents of which have never been made public) — an agreement which was recently renewed — may have been entered into, or abided by, in part due to threats from China to expose certain activities in the Vatican to global view.    The (possible) blackmail is occurring, perhaps (the article is proposing a hypothesis) because — as The Pillar article reports — a number of people, from “non-public areas” inside Vatican City, in 2018 used their cell phones to connect to “location-based homosexual and heterosexual hookup apps” which facilitate the possibility of sexual encounters between homosexuals and between heterosexuals.    Still, the article does not identify who might have been using such “hook-up apps” — whether Vatican monsignors, or lay workers, or even guests in Vatican City (every October in Rome there are international meetings hosted by the Vatican which are attended by people from all over the world).    So this article is a construction of suppositions based on data that does not seem to conclusively identify a single person — unless such identification has not yet been made public.    ***    Of great interest in this account is a brief narrative of what seems to have been a sort of “journalistic negotiation” between the editors of The Pillar and… the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.    Here is that part of the story, which my own comments in italics in brackets:    ”The Pillar met for more than 90 minutes with both Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, along with Dr. Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Vatican’s dicastery for communications, to present its findings July 17. The meeting’s discussion was agreed by all parties to be mutually confidential, but the fact of the meeting was not itself off-the-record.”    [NoteA personal meeting between a journalist — the journalist is referred to as “The Pillar,” so it was perhaps one journalist representing The Pillar, but it seems possible that there were two, or more, journalists representing The Pillar — and Cardinal Parolin is not unheard of (I have had such a meeting)… but… but… it is really not common. In fact, a meeting with the Secretary of State, the second man in the Vatican after the Pope, lasting for 90 minutes, is extraordinary. One wonders: What was discussed? But we know what was discussed: the meeting was “to present its (The Pillar‘s) findings.” And so we may imagine a long meeting where the journalist tells Cardinal Parolin that data on the use of the Grindr app by (it seemed certain, though there was no absolute proof) by the American monsignor, and by unidentified individuals inside the Vatican (or were all the individuals unidentified? were some identified?) has been collected… that the information on the use of the app is publicly available, is reliable, and will soon be published. This is what seems to have taken nearly 90 minutes. This was a meeting at which the journalist informed the Vatican’s Secretary of State about the details of a quite delicate investigation. And, one would imagine, the cardinal may have been informed as well that such information might have fallen into the hands of the Chinese government, and so, might have exposed him and the Pope to a type of… geopolitical blackmail. What would Cardinal Parolin have said in reaction to such a presentation?]    ”After the meeting’s conclusion, Ruffini requested questions from The Pillar, which he said he would submit to Parolin for a response, and asked for a week for the formulation of a response, to which The Pillar agreed.     [NoteThis detail seems unusual. Usually a journalist comes, or journalists come, to a Vatican meeting with questions in hand, already prepared. In this case, the meeting occurs, last 90 minutes, and then the Vatican officials ask for questions to be submitted. So it does appear that there was not a normal interview, with questions during the interview, but rather a long presentation. But then, after such a lengthy presentation, why would there have been any need for the journalist to present any questions? The journalist would have presented everything in the presentation… What question might the journalist have had about his own presentation?]     ”On July 18 [Sunday], the day after its meeting with Parolin and Ruffini, The Pillar was informed that a meeting with senior USCCB officials scheduled for Monday, July 19, had been cancelled. The Pillar was asked to submit written questions instead. Overnight between Sunday and Monday, one Catholic media outlet reported the possibility of forthcoming media reports on the issue of app signal data.”    [Note: So here we learn that things were happening that seem to have had the character of… negotiations… on both sides of the Atlantic. A meeting in Rome on July 17 with Parolin; a scheduled meeting in Washington on July 19 with the USCC leadership, canceled on the 18th. (Evidently The Pillar representative was going to fly from Rome to Washington on Sunday, the 18th, or, one representative was in Rome, meeting Parolin, and one was in Washington, about to meet with the USCC leadership.)     Then the leak by another news agency (CNA, the old agency of Flynn and Condon) early on the morning of Monday, July 19. (The report, by Alejandro Bermudez, was released at 3 a.m. on the 19th. The first sentence reads: “The prospect of private parties using national security-style surveillance technology to track the movements and activities of bishops, priests, and other Church personnel is raising concerns about civil liberties, privacy rights and what means are ethical to use in Church reform efforts.”    So it was now in the public domain that The Pillar was (in all likelihood) going to publish its information on the Grinder app use — and that this information had been gathered using what someone thought was “national security-style surveillance technology.” (What?!?)    All this suggests that what was occurring in these meetings may have had some of the characteristics of a negotiation, with one side proposing options regarding the timing of the publication of the information, and the other side, perhaps, requesting that the information not be published immediately, or that it be published only on certain conditions, or that it never be published… But what conditions could any Catholic journalist propose to the Holy See’s Cardinal Secretary of State in such a situation? That if certain actions were taken, the publication would be postponed for a certain time? That if something were done, the material… might not be published at all? We do not know…]    ”Late Sunday night [July 18], The Pillar submitted written questions to the USCCB at the conference’s request, and was then asked to extend an initial Monday deadline for response until the following day, which it did.”     [Note: “Late Sunday night”? Once again, this detail is odd. Who at the bishops’ conference was working “late Sunday night” to receive the questions, which evidently were expected to be answered immediately on Monday morning? This has the appearance of a negotiation proceeding toward a deadline. But what could the deadline have been? Was it the time of publication of the material? Well, in fact, we are told that there was a deadline! The bishops asked The Pillar “to extend an initial Monday deadline for a response until the following day.” So, there was a negotiation going on, a negotiation that had a deadline. The leaders of the USCC, it appears, were being asked by The Pillar to answer certain questions before Tuesday, “or else.” And was the “or else”? The “or else,” evidently, was… the publication of the investigation.]    On Tuesday [July 20], USCCB officials offered to schedule a meeting with The Pillar in the afternoon, to which The Pillar agreed. En route to that meeting, The Pillar learned from media reports that USCCB General Secretary Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill had resigned in response to “impending media reports alleging possible improper behavior.”    [Note: The Pillar published its report on Monsignor Burrill’s use of the Grindr app on July 20.]    On July 23, Ruffini told The Pillar that “we have examined the questions you have posed to His Eminence the Secretary of State following on your meeting of 17 July. At this point, also in the light of what happened in recent days, I can say that no statement will be provided.”    [End of the interesting section of The Pillar article of July 27, yesterday.]    ***    Here is the text of the Breitbart article, with some of my own editorial notes in italics in brackets:        Report: ‘Extensive’ Gay Hookup App Usage Compromises Vatican Security    July 28, 2021     By Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.     Sourced from: (link)    Location-based homosexual and heterosexual hookup apps are widely used within Vatican walls, an investigative report revealed late Tuesday, which can open the Holy See to blackmail and other security risks.    The report by the Pillar, an online Catholic news agency, [Editor’s Note: So, this article is drawn from another article, from another news agency, which we will have to look at to understand where all this came from; see below] raised particular concerns of vulnerability to China, which until 2020 owned the gay hookup app Grindr, one of the services whose use in the Vatican was uncovered.    The Pillar revealed that at least 16 different mobile devices emitted signals from Grindr on at least four days between March and October 2018 within the areas of the Vatican City State not open to the public.     [Note: So, the evidence in this case comes from… 16 different cell phones, on four days, between March and October, in 2018… If we include March and October, we are talking about eight months, that is, 240 days. We are bing told there is evidence on “at least four” of those days that one of 16 different cell phones connected with the Grindr app, which helps to set up dates between people.]    Vatican watchers have been at a loss to explain why the Vatican and Pope Francis himself have been so recalcitrant in not calling out the egregious human rights abuses perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and why the Holy See entered into an unfavorable agreement with the CCP in 2018 ceding some decision-making power in the naming of Catholic bishops to Beijing.    “As more and more nations have expressed their concern about the growing evidence of concentration camps and even genocide in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, there has been silence from the one entity that has the whole of suffering humanity at the core of its mission. I refer to the Holy See,” wrote a mystified Dominic Lawson in the Sunday Times in 2020.    The Grindr app was “acquired by the Chinese gaming firm Beijing Kunlun Tech in 2016 for $93 million,” the Pillar report states, and was only sold to a U.S.-based company in 2020, under pressure from the U.S. government that had flagged Grindr’s Chinese ownership “a national security risk.”     [Note: So, the report is saying the app was owned by a Chinese company until 2020, and that, therefore, the Chinese government could have accessed the data; evidently, the report is indicating that the Chinese government could not access that data since the 2020 sale.]    The report suggests a high degree of probability that Grindr data from its 27 million users would have been shared with the Chinese government during the four years under Chinese ownership, information that could include “user details, private messages exchanged between users, and evidence of sexual liaisons arranged between users.”     [Note: So, again, the report is saying that the data was (possibly) available to the Chinese government for four years, evidently from 2017 to 2020, when the ownership was in the hands of a Chinese company.]    As Breitbart News reported in July 2020, cyber hackers tied to the Chinese government were able to successfully infiltrate the Vatican’s computer networks in the months leading up to a renegotiation of the 2018 accord on the appointment of bishops in China.     [Note: So, we will have to look at this July 2020 report.]    The U.S.-based cybersecurity firm Recorded Future found that hackers had targeted the Vatican and the Holy See’s Study Mission to China, a group of Hong Kong-based Vatican diplomats who have been negotiating the Church’s status in China.     [Note: Again, this same 2020 report.]    In June 2019, the Holy See also changed its longstanding policy of forbidding Catholic priests from joining the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), which was set up under the rule of Chairman Mao Zedong as a parallel church to the church in Rome.    Cardinal Joseph Zen, a vocal critic of the Vatican’s 2018 deal with the CCP over the appointment of bishops, said that deal was not nearly as destructive as the “Pastoral Guidance” issued by the Vatican allowing Catholic clerics to enlist in the CCPA.    In comparison, the pastoral guidance “is more blatantly evil, immoral, because it legitimizes a schismatic Church!” Zen wrote in March 2020.    Since the signing of the original Vatican-China deal in 2018, Catholic in China — especially those belonging to the unofficial “underground Church faithful to Rome — have suffered intensified persecution, according to numerous reports.    “While the Vatican has reached a provisional agreement with China on the issue of episcopal appointments, reports of persecution by the Chinese government persist as underground churches are closed and their priests detained, crosses destroyed, bibles confiscated, and children under 18 forbidden from attending Mass and receiving religious instruction,” the U.S. bishops said in June 2020.    Beijing has come under growing international criticism for the mass imprisonment in “reeducation camps” of more than one million Uighurs in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, where reports of compulsory sterilization, forced abortions, torture, and ethnic cleansing have become frequent.    “The CCP has also been credibly accused of forcibly aborting and sterilizing Uyghur women in the hundreds of thousands, as well as committing infanticide of full-term babies born outside of the family planning limits,” declared human rights champion Reggie Littlejohn in March 2021.    ***    So the source of this Breibart article is a relatively new web news agency called The Pillar, founded earlier this year by two Catholic journalists and canon lawyers who both left Catholic News Agency, which is now part of EWTN, at the end of 2020, six months ago.     Here is that article:    Location-based apps pose security risk for Holy See     News: Vatican    The Pillar    July 27, 2021The use of location-based hookup apps by officials or employees of Church institutions could present serious security problems for the Church, even at the level of the Holy See’s diplomatic and international relations.    The use of such apps within the Vatican City State could be a point of vulnerability in the Holy See’s efforts to defend itself from cyberattacks and other intelligence-gathering exercises in recent years.    Analysis of commercially available signal data obtained by The Pillar, which was legally obtained and whose authenticity The Pillar has confirmed, shows that during a period of 26 weeks in 2018, at least 32 mobile devices emitted serially occurring hookup or dating app data signals from secured areas and buildings of the Vatican ordinarily inaccessible to tourists and pilgrims.     At least 16 mobile devices emitted signals from the hookup app Grindr on at least four days between March to October 2018 within the non-public areas of the Vatican City State, while 16 other devices showed use of other location-based hookup or dating apps, both heterosexual and homosexual, on four or more days in the same time period.    The data set assessed by The Pillar is commercially available and contains location and usage information which users consent to be collected and commercialized as a condition of using the app.    Extensive location-based hookup or dating app usage is evident within the walls of Vatican City, in restricted areas of St. Peter’s Basilica, inside Vatican City government and Holy See’s administration buildings including those used by the Vatican’s diplomatic staff, in residential buildings, and in the Vatican Gardens, both during daytime hours and overnight.      Signals emitted from most of the Vatican’s extraterritorial buildings, which house the offices of several key Curial departments were excluded from analysis because of the proximity of tourists, pilgrims, and the general public to those buildings on a daily basis.    The use of any hookup app within the Vatican City State’s secured areas could pose a security risk for the Holy See. And use of the Grindr app among Vatican residents and officials and within the non-public areas of Vatican City State could present a particular diplomatic security risk for the Holy See in its dealings with China.      The company was launched in California, but acquired by the Chinese gaming firm Beijing Kunlun Tech in 2016 for $93 million.     While it was under Chinese ownership, the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) deemed the app’s ownership a national security risk, over concerns that data from the app’s some 27 million users could be accessed by the Chinese government and used for blackmail.    The app was sold in 2020 to a company based in the United States for a reported $608 million, at the demand of the U.S. government.    While it was still under Chinese ownership, Grindr allowed third-party engineers access to the personal data of millions of U.S.-based users, including their personal details and HIV status, according to media reports last year.    Because Chinese law requires tech companies to provide access to national intelligence-gathering agencies, app data could be available to the Chinese government. Under intelligence and cybersecurity laws, Kunlun Tech could have been compelled to turn over the data from company servers to the Chinese government for any reason pertaining to “national security,” experts have warned.    That data could include user details, private messages exchanged between users, and evidence of sexual liaisons arranged between users.    Grindr has said that the company has “never disclosed any user data (regardless of citizenship) to the Chinese government nor do we intend to.” But one former Grindr employee told Los Angeles magazine in 2019 that “there’s no world in which the People’s Republic of China is like, ‘Oh, yes, a Chinese billionaire is going to make all this money in the American market with all of this valuable data and not give it to us.’”    China-watchers warn that the country’s government is proactive and formidable in its online-surveillance and intelligence gathering.    “There is a rampant, habitual collection of and interception of internet communication and social media communications. Members of Congress were hacked,” Nina Shea, a former commissioner on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, told The Pillar last week.    Shea, who also served as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations’ Commission on Human Rights, told The Pillar that “since the Vatican doesn’t have a military component, the Chinese are tracking their religious ideas, spying on local Church figures in order to keep them in line. Blackmail is certainly one of the cards they have that they would have no compunction in using.”    “In terms of their engagement with the Vatican, I can understand well how they’ve targeted the Holy See through cyber attacks and everything else, and also the local church in Hong Kong and everything in the run up to the new Vatican-China deal,” Shea added.    In 2018, the Holy See agreed to a two-year provisional deal with the Chinese government, granting Beijing a role in the selection and vetting of candidates for episcopal appointment in Chinese dioceses. That deal, which was renewed in 2020, has been criticized for appearing to lend Vatican approval to efforts that force Catholic clergy in the country to acknowledge the Chinese Communist Party as the legitimate authority over Church affairs in China.    Since the deal was signed, China has come under growing international criticism for the mass imprisonment of more than one million Uighurs in Xinjiang Autonomous Region, where reports of systematic torture, sterilization, forced abortions, and ethnic cleansing have become frequent.    China has also moved to crack down on the exercise of civil liberties in Hong Kong, arresting several prominent Catholic pro-democracy activists and forcing the local diocese to issue warnings to Catholic priests and teachers to ensure sufficiently patriotic content in homilies and classrooms.    In recent years, the Holy See has been the target of several cyber-espionage attacks appearing to originate in China and apparently linked to China’s diplomatic negotiations with the Vatican.    In the months before the renewal of the Vatican-China deal in 2020, the cybersecurity media outlet Recorded Future reported that both the Vatican and the Diocese of Hong Kong had been targeted for hacks by RedDelta, a Chinese-state sponsored hacking organization. Other suspected network intrusions were identified at the Hong Kong Study Mission to China and the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions in Italy.    Internal data from Grindr users’ accounts could include personal details, including mobile device identifiers, as well as access to private messages sent across the app. Because the app’s primary function is to facilitate hookups (casual sexual encounters), the Grindr app plots users’ locations and flags other users nearby, creating a map of nearby users.    But the use of Grindr is not the only potential security threat for the Holy See.    The data analyzed by The Pillar also showed more than a dozen devices with patterns of use for other location-based apps within the secure sections of the Vatican, with Badoo and Skout the most common apps identified. Both apps use the device’s location to connect them with other individuals nearby to meet.    Skout allows children under 17 to set up accounts on the app, although with limited functionality, and has been flagged in some reports for the ease with which minors can circumvent restrictions.    Badoo is registered in Cyprus and the U.K. and was created by a Russian developer in 2006. It boasts more than 40 million users worldwide and has been repeatedly flagged as a data security risk for users. While the company claims it has tightened its security, a 2019 report found that downloading the app granted access to more than 90% of a user’s phone or device data.    In 2015, Ashley Madison, an online hookup service explicitly catering to those looking to commit adultery, was hacked and its user data stolen. Much of the data was put online, and several account holders reported receiving blackmail threats demanding payment in Bitcoin.    While actual personal data could be used to blackmail, coerce, or extort app users within the Vatican, selective use of such data could also be misrepresented to extort senior officials who are actually unconnected with location-based apps, if they live in a residence at which a guest or fellow resident has used frequently a hookup or dating app.    Selective presentation or framing of app signal data could present a blackmail or extortion risk even to cardinals in the run-up to a future conclave.    The Pillar met for more than 90 minutes with both Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, along with Dr. Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Vatican’s dicastery for communications, to present its findings July 17. The meeting’s discussion was agreed by all parties to be mutually confidential, but the fact of the meeting was not itself off-the-record.     After the meeting’s conclusion, Ruffini requested questions from The Pillar, which he said he would submit to Parolin for a response, and asked for a week for the formulation of a response, to which The Pillar agreed.     On July 18, the day after its meeting with Parolin and Ruffini, The Pillar was informed that a meeting with senior USCCB officials scheduled for Monday, July 19, had been cancelled. The Pillar was asked to submit written questions instead. Overnight between Sunday and Monday, one Catholic media outlet reported the possibility of forthcoming media reports on the issue of app signal data.     Late Sunday night, The Pillar submitted written questions to the USCCB at the conference’s request, and was then asked to extend an initial Monday deadline for response until the following day, which it did. On Tuesday, USCCB officials offered to schedule a meeting with The Pillar in the afternoon, to which The Pillar agreed. En route to that meeting, The Pillar learned from media reports that USCCB General Secretary Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill had resigned in response to “impending media reports alleging possible improper behavior.”    On July 23, Ruffini told The Pillar that “we have examined the questions you have posed to His Eminence the Secretary of State following on your meeting of 17 July. At this point, also in the light of what happened in recent days, I can say that no statement will be provided.”    Vatican City State policy does not presently prohibit employees or residents from the use of location-based hookup apps, even within secured locations connected to diplomatic responsibilities, Vatican officials have told The Pillar.    Editor’s note: Beijing Kunlun agreed to sell Grindr in 2020. This report initially identified incorrectly the year of that sale as 2018. The report has been corrected.    [End, The Pillar piece on the security issues of apps used in Vatican City]    =====    Brief bios of the editors of The Pillar    Who we are:    JD Flynn, editor-in-chief, cofounder —    Before co-founding The Pillar, JD Flynn was editor-in-chief of Catholic News Agency. Before that, he was chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver, and a senior advisor to Bishop James Conley in the Diocese of Lincoln. He has an MA in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, and a JCL in canon law from the Catholic University of America.    JD is a member of the College of Fellows at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, has served a consultor to the USCCB, and is published in the Washington Post, the New York Post, First Things, The Lamp, National Review, and in various Catholic publications.    Ed Condon, editor, cofounder —    Before co-founding The Pillar, Ed Condon worked as the DC editor of the Catholic News Agency and was an associate editor of the Catholic Herald. His journalistic work has appeared in publications including the Washington Post, National Review, the Washington Examiner, the Spectator, the Bulwark, First Things, as well as several academic and legal journals.    Ed is also a practicing canon lawyer, having worked in dioceses across three continents and the Holy See. Previously he spent nearly ten years working in professional politics in the United Kingdom.=====================    Note to readers    Here is a link to an interview I gave on Tuesday, July 20, to Jim Hale of LifeSiteNews.    P.S. At the 36:49 mark we begin to talk about a pilgrimage to the Shenandoah Valley. You might take a look at those few seconds and consider whether you might like to join us toward the end of October when all the Valley is ablaze with the red, orange and gold of the changing leaves. (Click here for a link to the Information and Registration Packet)    ***    “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”  – Psalm 31:24
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Washington Examiner

California restaurant vows to serve only unvaccinated diners

Jake DimaTue, July 27, 2021, 9:11 AM·3 min read

An Italian restaurant in Huntington Beach, California, that has resisted maskmandates since last year is now vowing to serve only those who have not received a coronavirus inoculation.

Basilico’s Pasta E Vino posted a sign on its front door that read, “NOTICE Proof of being unvaccinated required.” It is unclear how long the sign has been up or what would constitute “proof” of not having received doses of the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson and Johnson vaccines, though the restaurant railed against “HATERS” and “LITTLE DICTATORS” after owners said they were the subject of threats following coverage of the development from the Los Angeles Times.




HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA – JULY 26: Signs at Basilicos Pasta e vino encourage people without the COVID-19 vaccine to dine at the restaurant in Huntington Beach, CA, on Monday, July 26, 2021. While the emergence of the Delta variant of COVID-19 has many businesses and consumers proceeding with caution, Basilicos Pasta E Vino in Huntington Beach continues with its campaign of noncompliance. It recently posted a sign saying it will be asking diners for proof of being unvaccinated. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images) MediaNews Group/Orange County Re/MediaNews Group via Getty Images

In May 2020, Basilico’s commenced an anti-mask campaign and a month later issued a statement that customers who wish to dine inside the restaurant will need to “remove” their face coverings when sitting down.

“So to be clear, if you enter the restaurant for dine in, and want to wear a mask, you must remove it when sitting down. If you are standing around inside and waiting for a table, or waiting inside to pick up food for yourself or as a third party delivery driver, and you are wearing a mask, you will be asked to wait outside,” owners wrote at the time.


The state took notice in October 2020, and the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control accused Basilico’s of being “disorderly premises.” The restaurant’s liquor license is still active despite pending litigation for the owners.

The threat came days after the restaurant commissioned a sign in the area that read, “Leave the mask, take the cannoli,” an homage to the classic mob film The Godfather.

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6. The dialogue of Jesus with the rich young man, related in the nineteenth chapter of Saint Matthew’s Gospel, can serve as a useful guide for listening once more in a lively and direct way to his moral teaching: “Then someone came to him and said, ‘Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments. ‘He said to him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honour your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘I have kept all these; what do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me’ ” (Mt 19:16-21).13

7. “Then someone came to him…“. In the young man, whom Matthew’s Gospel does not name, we can recognize every person who, consciously or not, approaches Christ the Redeemer of man and questions him about morality. For the young man, the question is not so much about rules to be followed, but about the full meaning of life. This is in fact the aspiration at the heart of every human decision and action, the quiet searching and interior prompting which sets freedom in motion. This question is ultimately an appeal to the absolute Good which attracts us and beckons us; it is the echo of a call from God who is the origin and goal of man’s life. Precisely in this perspective the Second Vatican Council called for a renewal of moral theology, so that its teaching would display the lofty vocation which the faithful have received in Christ,14 the only response fully capable of satisfying the desire of the human heart. 

In order to make this “encounter” with Christ possible, God willed his Church. Indeed, the Church “wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life”.15

“Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?” (Mt 19:16) 

8. The question which the rich young man puts to Jesus of Nazareth is one which rises from the depths of his heart. It is an essential and unavoidable question for the life of every man, for it is about the moral good which must be done, and about eternal life. The young man senses that there is a connection between moral good and the fulfilment of his own destiny. He is a devout Israelite, raised as it were in the shadow of the Law of the Lord. If he asks Jesus this question, we can presume that it is not because he is ignorant of the answer contained in the Law. It is more likely that the attractiveness of the person of Jesus had prompted within him new questions about moral good. He feels the need to draw near to the One who had begun his preaching with this new and decisive proclamation: “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15). 

People today need to turn to Christ once again in order to receive from him the answer to their questions about what is good and what is evil. Christ is the Teacher, the Risen One who has life in himself and who is always present in his Church and in the world. It is he who opens up to the faithful the book of the Scriptures and, by fully revealing the Father’s will, teaches the truth about moral action. At the source and summit of the economy of salvation, as the Alpha and the Omega of human history (cf. Rev 1:8; 21:6; 22:13), Christ sheds light on man’s condition and his integral vocation. Consequently, “the man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly — and not just in accordance with immediate, partial, often superficial, and even illusory standards and measures of his being — must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter him with all his own self; he must ‘appropriate’ and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself. If this profound process takes place within him, he then bears fruit not only of adoration of God but also of deeper wonder at himself”.16

If we therefore wish to go to the heart of the Gospel’s moral teaching and grasp its profound and unchanging content, we must carefully inquire into the meaning of the question asked by the rich young man in the Gospel and, even more, the meaning of Jesus’ reply, allowing ourselves to be guided by him. Jesus, as a patient and sensitive teacher, answers the young man by taking him, as it were, by the hand, and leading him step by step to the full truth. 

“There is only one who is good” (Mt 19:17) 

9. Jesus says: “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Mt 19:17). In the versions of the Evangelists Mark and Luke the question is phrased in this way: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone” (Mk 10:18; cf. Lk 18:19). 

Before answering the question, Jesus wishes the young man to have a clear idea of why he asked his question. The “Good Teacher” points out to him — and to all of us — that the answer to the question, “What good must I do to have eternal life?” can only be found by turning one’s mind and heart to the “One” who is good: “No one is good but God alone” (Mk 10:18; cf. Lk18:19). Only God can answer the question about what is good, because he is the Good itself.

To ask about the good, in fact, ultimately means to turn towards God, the fullness of goodness. Jesus shows that the young man’s question is really a religious question, and that the goodness that attracts and at the same time obliges man has its source in God, and indeed is God himself. God alone is worthy of being loved “with all one’s heart, and with all one’s soul, and with all one’s mind” (Mt 22:37). He is the source of man’s happiness. Jesus brings the question about morally good action back to its religious foundations, to the acknowledgment of God, who alone is goodness, fullness of life, the final end of human activity, and perfect happiness. 

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